40 million euros for four research projects from Baden-Württemberg

Five researchers at universities in Baden-Württemberg came out on top with four projects in the pan-European wide Synergy Grants 2020 competition of the European Research Council (ERC). They will each receive ten million euros for their research projects. With five out of 26 German award winners, Baden-Württemberg leads the ranking of funded researchers in Germany.

The projects selected for the Synergy Grants are generally interdisciplinary. The European Research Council hopes to achieve ground-breaking research results through the cooperation of scientists from different disciplines on an overarching topic.

The following projects will be funded by ERC-Synergy Grants:

Prof. Dr. Jan Korvink and Dr. Benno Meier, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Project: HiScore - Highly Informative Drug Screening by Overcoming NMR Restrictions

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is an important tool for drug research, but currently still has weaknesses in sensitivity and performance. In the project led by Prof. Dr. Jan Gerrit Korvink and Dr. Benno Meier from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) together with Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Bodenhausen from the École Normale Supérieure in France and Prof. Dr. Arno Kentgens from the Stichting Katholieke Universiteit in the Netherlands, a method for high-throughput drug screening is to be developed. This could result in a huge acceleration for drug research.

Prof. Dr. Waltraud Schulze, University of Hohenheim

Project: SymPore - Plasmodesmata, Symplasmic pores for plant cell-to-cell communication

The project, jointly led by Prof. Dr. Waltraud Schulze from the University of Hohenheim, Prof. Dr. Wolf B. Frommer and Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Simon from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Baumeister, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried, is intended to investigate the structure and function of the previously poorly understood cell-to-cell connections of plants, the so-called plasmodesmata.

Prof. Dr. Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen

Project: PATHOCOM - Understanding and predicting PATHOgen COMmunities

The PATHOCOM project aims to find out how pathogens interact. The team is led by Prof. Dr. Detlef Weigel from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Dr. Fabrice Roux from the CNRS in Toulouse and Prof. Dr. Joy Bergelson from the University of Chicago. Pathogens are the cause of many serious diseases in plants, animals and humans. However, the pathogens rarely act alone. How pathogens interact in order to displace other, harmless microbes and thus injure or even kill their hosts is therefore a question of great relevance, which the PATHOCOM project aims to investigate in more detail.

Dr. Max Haider, CEOS Corrected Electron Optical Systems GmbH in Heidelberg

Project: MORE-TEM - MOmentum and position REsolved mapping Transmission Electron energy loss Microscope

To apply nanomaterials, it is necessary to see their atomic structure and at the same time determine their local properties. Until now, however, no existing technology has been able to do this. With the MORE-TEM project led by Dr. Max Haider from CEOS Corrected Electron Optical Systems GmbH in Heidelberg together with Univ. Prof. Dr. Thomas Pichler (University of Vienna in Austria), Prof. Dr. Francesco Mauri (University of Roma La Sapienza in Italy) and Dr. Kazutomo Suenaga (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan), a fundamentally new and worldwide unique electron nanospectrometer is now to be realised at the University of Vienna.

Synergy Grants

The competitive awarding of ERC grants in different categories is now setting the standards for research excellence in Europe. The "Synergy Grants" category supports teams of two to four researchers (both excellent young researchers and established researchers with outstanding scientific achievements). The maximum funding amount per project is ten million euros for a period of up to six years. In 2020, out of 440 applications, a total of 34 projects with 116 Principal Investigators (PI/leading scientists, i.e. project leaders) were submitted to 86 universities.


For further information please read the press release of the European Research Council.


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